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Contra Costa Times

Published on December 4, 2010

Your Turn: Revolution in Richmond

By Andres Soto
Contra Costa Times Guest Commentary

On Election Day the people of Richmond re-elected Progressive Gayle McLaughlin for our mayor and elected progressive Jovanka Beckles to the Richmond City Council. We also resoundingly defeated Measure U by 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent.

A significant political blow has been suffered by the Richmond Corporatocracy that has dominated all aspects of political and economic life in Richmond and beyond for 100 years.

Chevron alone spent at least $1 million to defeat the progressive movement in Richmond and was resoundingly defeated. Chevron's mayoral candidate, Nat Bates, and City Council candidates Maria Theresa Viramontes and Ludmyrna Lopez have been completely repudiated by the voters of Richmond.

The people also elected anti-Casino Corky Booze and, unbelievably, Jim Rogers. pro- and anti-casino forces also brought in another $1 million.

The Richmond Progressive Movement has been a self-funded endeavor of positively committed grass roots community members. Now with an overwhelming mandate from the people and 5-2 majority, the Richmond Progressive Movement will do what it has always done: bring the people of Richmond together for a healthier, cleaner vision of our future and the future of our families.

The Richmond Progressive Movement has now democratically defeated one of the world's most wealthy and powerful corporations in its own backyard. Chevron, along with its allies and surrogates; the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Industries, the Richmond Police Officers Association, the Richmond Firefighters Association, BAPAC, BMW, the Contra Costa Building Trades Councils, Contra Costa Central Labor Council, the Contra Costa Democratic Central Committee and many operatives in the business and nonprofit sectors, all ganged up along with the new exploiters, predatory gambling speculators, in a head-to-head vote for the hearts and minds of the people of Richmond.

Our revolution is like the Prague Spring or the Orange Revolution of the Ukraine. We peacefully and deliberately took the community's issues to the people to let them decide their own future. The people of Richmond have shown their intelligence and perceptiveness in seeing through the lies and false promises of the "Richmond Way" corruption.

There is much damage that has been done to our community and the healing must begin. But let us not forget that the people of Richmond have mandated a significant new way of doing business in town. Accountability must be part of the new way of doing business in Richmond. The days of cronyism, racism, incompetence, nepotism, pay to play must now end.

Andres Soto is a Richmond Planning Commissioner and a founding member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

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